by: Ben Gose

A year ago, a division of TechSoup Global began working on an app to allow donors to buy a hotel room for victims of domestic violence when no other shelter is available. Now that app is a finalist in a competition run by a foundation that combats human trafficking—and a win could mean a grant worth several hundred thousand dollars. The app’s evolution—adding a focus on sex slaves to the initial emphasis on domestic violence—was hardly accidental.

Caravan Studios, the TechSoup division that created the app, has embraced a new management approach popular in Silicon Valley known as “lean start-up.”

The principles, which are increasingly popular among nonprofits, emphasize experimentation over long-term planning and urge groups to get products and services out to clients as early as possible so the organizations can learn from feedback and make changes.

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